By Rachel Hoeing

I love a nice fresh stack of playing cards. Magic tricks, Gin Rummy, Black Jack, Solitaire, Spades … if it involves a deck of cards, I am probably going to love it.

I remember how much I loved playing spades with my suite-mates in college, but one of the girls who lived on our hall would make fun of us claiming that cards were such a waste of time. Looking back, it was anything but. I can’t tell you how many laughs we had over those games of spades, as well as deep conversations and a lot of singing!  Those girls are still some of my best friends.

This summer I taught my children how to play a few card games and I was amazed at the benefits. Not only have they enjoyed many laughs, but have bonded as well. They have taken decks of cards to their swim meets and taught friends how to play “spit” and “spite & malice.” They have quickly learned the mathematics of cards as well. Of course there are a lot of games that make them use their critical thinking skills, too.

Cards have come in handy on rainy days and extremely humid days when we just want to chill out in the house but do not want to be “plugged” in the whole day. We love to spread out on the carpet and relax while playing games.

I think the biggest perk of playing cards is when I have played with the kids one-on-one. My son turned 10 this summer and is reaching “tweendom” a lot quicker than I had hoped. But in these card playing moments, I have found that it is an amazing time to bond with him. The other week he told me a story that had us both laughing for a good five minutes. Yesterday he suddenly opened up to me about a friend who had recently hurt his feelings and we chatted about it for a while, all over a game of Spite and Malice. I don’t think he even realized how we were connecting at that moment.

So to the girl on my hall in college – little did she know how wonderful a game of cards can be! And for those of you who want to give some card playing with your kids a try, start out with War, Crazy Eights, Go Fish, or Slap Jack for the younger kids. For older, here are links to a few other games we enjoy with instructions. Please share your own card game ideas by commenting below as well.

Spit – (We play differently, but I can’t find one online with our rules!)
Spite and Malice
Gin Rummy

From one card shark to another … enjoy!